In their book The Pragmatic Programmer Andrew Hunt and David Thomas discuss what they term “Software Entropy”. By this, they mean the seemingly unavoidable and ever increasing disorder and decay in a piece software. They draw a parallel with the Broken Window Theory, described as follows:
In inner cities, some buildings are beautiful and clean, while others are rotting hulks. Why? Researchers in the field of crime and urban decay discovered a fascinating trigger mechanism, one that very quickly turns a clean, intact, inhabited building into a smashed and abandoned derelict .
A broken window.
One broken window, left unrepaired for any substantial length of time, instills in the inhabitants of the building a sense of abandonment - a sense that the powers that be don’t care about the building. So another window gets broken. People start littering. Graffiti appears. Serious structural damage begins. In a relatively short space of time, the building becomes damaged beyond the owner’s desire to fix it, and the sense of abandonment becomes reality.